On 30 June 2012, President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree on the “Approval of the 2012-2016 Strategic Programme for Legal and Judicial Reforms in the Republic of Armenia and the List of Measures deriving from the Programme.” Among the measures of the strategic program aimed to ensure fair, effective and publicly accountable judiciary it was planned to establish the Academy of Justice as well.
It was to replace the “Judicial Scholl of the Republic of Armenia” and the “Prosecutor’s School,” and on the contrary to the opinion that the future or currently practicing prosecutors and judges shall not be drawn closer in such way, however the Academy of Justice was registered as a SNCO on 20 December 2013 and started complete operation since January 2014. Henceforth, education in the Academy of Justice is required to become a judge or a prosecutor.
On 22nd February was the 100th day in office of Ruben Melikyan, Rector of the Academy of Justice, PhD in Law, Associate Professor, Ex-Deputy Minister of Justice of the RA.
Iravaban.net had an interview with Ruben Melikyan to learn about the work carried out in the Academy of Justice during this period and about the future plans.
– Mr. Melikyan, according to the law the curricula for 2014 should have been approved already. Will you please clarify the schedule of attendance to the Academy of the candidates included in the list of judges or prosecutors?
– First I would like to mention that according to the decision of the Management Board our work shall start on the 17th of March. The professional training of the persons included in the list of the candidates to judges will last for 8.5 months (currently only the curricula of the training program for judges is approved). We have planned a rather intensive training program which includes 5 parts. The first and the second parts in fact are similar. Five weeks are provided for class hours and two weeks for the exams.
There will be classes every day. During the so called first and second quarters we have a 2-week examination period, where 8 exams shall be passed. That is, the student passes 8 training courses during the first and the second quarters. Why do we provide two weeks? This is to provide opportunity to prepare properly and to avoid having more than exam in one day.
– What disciplines shall be taught in the Academy?
– Based on the specificity of the individuals included in the list of candidates to judges, we divide our disciplines into three groups: approximately 25 percents of the training course include general professional subjects that are related to all three specializations; civil, criminal and administrative. Here they will study the principles of legal writing and analysis, modern developments of the constitutional right, the 2012-2016 Strategic Programme for Legal and Judicial Reforms, its ideology and objectives, etc.
The second group of the disciplines is adjacent studies. Here we intend to provide knowledge on time management, stress management, fundamentals of psychology, impact psychology, communication and negotiation.
The third group includes professional training courses. It will include currently actual themes such as contemporary issues of the criminal law, and also the disciplines that are the most typical for such institutions: formation of certain skills and capacity to conduct the trial and the issues to compile the judicial acts. We shall have a specific case in the courtroom where the students will try a case and compile a judicial act. I want to note that this structure and these courses are similar to the German model. We do not differ from the model that exists in Europe.
– Who will teach in the Academy?
– We do not have permanent lecturers. This is our strategy for 2014. Maybe in future we shall take a decision to have chairs. Currently our Academy has an administrative structure. We shall sign contracts with the lecturers for definite hours of lectures and shall invite the lecturers who have certain practice, and have proved the efficiency of their activity. We shall choose the lecturers with notably wide practice of a judge or prosecutor.
We have R&D department, which shall work with the lecturers on subjects, programs and packages, so that they will have certain packages to conduct a definitely structured lectures.
– Will you have foreign experts?
– We shall try to use our resources to involve the foreign experts in some format of our Academy’s work. We have planned the format of lectures of visiting professors. We have planned 20 hours for this. May be in future we shall be able to ensure their two or three lectures on important themes.
Another format includes cooperation with different international organizations and organizers of seminars which involve prosecutors or judges. On the assumption of the fact that the judges and prosecutors have definite annual amount of hours for training we consider expedient to establish certain criteria and in case of conforming to these criteria count the hours. Currently we are trying to improve and materialize this form.
– Numerous discussions took place prior to the establishment of the academy. There were opinions that there is no need to gather the candidates to judges or prosecutors in one room and educate them on the assumption of the fact that this unification in future may wrong. What is your opinion on this issue?
– We have positive aspects in this format that is we are able to implement a unified educational policy. In other words as a result of qualification test the individuals included in the list of candidates to judges or prosecutors get the same knowledge and thus avoid possible practical problems when the same issue is interpreted differently in different cases. I believe this process will have a certain vectored direction in our case, maybe in case of more efficient and successful attempt the state will think about the continuation of this integration process. We have taken certain steps in this direction, specifically Drafts on “Investigating Committee” and adjacent legislative packages foresee amendments to the Law on Academy of Justice as well. In case the package is adopted the scope of our audience will be widened by the investigators of the investigating committee.
– You mentioned that by educating the future judges and prosecutors we avoid possible future practical problems, when the same issue is interpreted differently in different cases. The same problem arises for the advocates as well; sometimes they do not realize how the judge or the prosecutor interpreted the norm of the law. Does this mean that the Advocates School shall be joined to the Academy as well?
– I do not want to speak about this because this is beyond my authority and functions. However I think that the Advocates School has definite peculiarities; the advocate does not implement state functions. Our goal is to cooperate with the school and maybe in future we shall have trainings for the future judges, prosecutors and advocates.
I do not think that the rector of the Academy of Justice, who has not yet started the educational process and has not proved the effectiveness of the Academy of Justice, shall make judgments about the expansion of the Academy of Justice in future and continuation of the integration process. Frankly, we do not think about this today, we rather think about ensuring the quality of training in the Academy of Justice on due level.
According to Ruben Melikyan they want to make the distance training the business card of the academy. It is in their plans for 2015, but of course the distance tuition cannot completely replace the full-time tuition but can significantly reduce its role.
According to the law the Academy also aims to train the judges, prosecutors, court employees, the civil servants in the prosecution staff and the bailiffs, improve their professional knowledge as well as to realize joint educational programs for the representatives of judiciary and prosecution systems.
The sum of 300 million AMD is allocated from the state budget to cover the costs of the Academy of Justice in 2014. This is excluding the scholarship of the persons included in the list of the candidates to judges and prosecutors (around 100.000 AMD for each).
P.S. The cost of the construction of the building complex for the Academy of Justice with total area of 2698 square meters (including the land 2500 square meters) is 844.681.213 AMD. The Construction was funded by the World Bank.